Mysticism Overview

Mysticism Overview - 1 Mysticism Introduction Gallop poll 3 out of 10 people in US have had a mystical experience It may be hard to find an aspect

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Mysticism Introduction Gallop poll: 3 out of 10 people in US: have had a mystical experience. It may be hard to find an aspect of religious life that is subject to more misunderstandings than mysticism. People often confuse it with magic, superstition, the occult or about anything else that they think is mysterious or cryptic .   Often, something is said to be mystical if it is obscure, difficult to understand, vague, muddled, foggy. But not an accurate use of the word. Possible to trace the word mysticism back to its roots in the Greek language. Linked to the Greek verb muo, meaning to shut or close the lips or eyes, to not speak of that which is hidden from view. Connected to the Greek mystery cults: a mystic was someone who had been initiated into these mysteries, and thereby gained an esoteric knowledge of the inner workings of divinity, a direct, experiential knowledge that he or she was to keep hidden from all those who were not initiates, a secret, transformative wisdom was bestowed to the mystic, a wisdom that was forbidden to be spoken of to anyone outside the circle of those who also had been similarly blessed. Thus, linked from the beginning, with the esoteric, versus the exoteric, aspects of religion, with the inner, interior, hidden from view aspects of religious life, as opposed to the easily seen, easily accessible, outer aspects of religion. Over time, in the Greek world, that which was mystical began to have a broader meaning: more philosophical, not exclusively linked to ritual participation in the mysteries, but instead, came to mean an intuitive grasp of the whole of reality. With the emergence of Christianity, the word came to be used in a more specific sense, to refer to that aspect of religious life in which a person has been given an intense, powerful, direct, transforming experience of God's presence, and seeks to deepen and extend this state of consciousness through the concentrated and repeated practice of a variety of spiritual disciplines. Of course, other religious traditions don't use the words "mystic" or "mysticism" or "mystical" -- (or some the term “God”) these are Western terms that became especially prevalent especially after the 19th century, when it became important to find a generic term to describe a phenomenon that seemed to found whichever religion one investigated. The term "mystical" or "mysticism" as it is used today emerged out of the fairly recent attempt to use terminology that, while originating in the Western culture, can be applied universally, from one culture to the next. 1
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The mystic is seen as someone who doesn't just know about God, or believe in God, but someone who has had several powerful direct experiences of the reality of God's presence. The mystic has been there, the mystic is filled with absolute certainty, even though he or she
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This note was uploaded on 05/08/2008 for the course RELI 3382 taught by Professor Billbarnard during the Spring '08 term at SMU.

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Mysticism Overview - 1 Mysticism Introduction Gallop poll 3 out of 10 people in US have had a mystical experience It may be hard to find an aspect

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